Open-Mindedness Is The Best Teacher
If you see in any given situation only what everybody else can see, you can be said to be so much a representative of your culture that you are a victim of it. S. I. Hayakawa
Hayakawa’s quote has always caused me to think: “I would be a different person if I had been born at a different time and in a different place.” I have lived in California all of my life. I didn’t travel outside of the United States until I was married with teen-aged sons. My many years of formal education have also had a selective imprint. My knowledge, beliefs and learning are the result of my limited, personal experience. Limited, personal and learningare the key phrases. As a result, unrestricted learning becomes a need. This makes me unique, just like everyone else. Learningnow becomes the major personal goal for continued growth.
Our unique learning has cultivated our personal mindsets (a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of certain situations). Think about this: If everyone is unique, then everyone has had different learning experiences and probably a different mind set. Personal learning experience can bea benefit or a handicap; it is is a powerful teacher. The best way to learn from experience is to have a lot of different experiences. The best way to have a lot of different experiences is to have an open mind. An open mind is receptive to new ideas and new learningexperiences.
My blog writing has often been to encourage others to pause and think about their own limited learning experience. And to be aware of the personal and limited cultural experiences of others; especially others who have a different point of view. This is particularly important today because in America we have such diversity of point of view (sometimes called tribalism). “We” don’t think like “they” think because we and they have had different life learning experiences.
So, what do we do about that? We can be careful not to have a fixed mindset (closed-mindedness) and focus only on what we know, but to focus on learning, because knowing can become the antithesis of learning. It is better to KNOW HOW TO LEARN than to know. Dr. Seuss. One way to learn is to expand your personal experience. Tyr it, you might like it. New ideas, thoughts and beliefs come from new learning experiences, which requires open-mindedness. Of course, this is a recipe for the ability to change. The measure of intelligence is the ability to change, Albert Einstein.
The ability to change is related to one’s personal experience and capacity to learn. Learning requires change and causes change. Therefore, the best teacher is a malleable mind, open to new experiences and able to change, which means the ability to learn and unlearn. The following quote I believe by R. D. Laing says it best.
We must continually unlearn much of what we have learned, and learn to learn what we have not been taught.